Man’s Best Amigo: How to Speak to Your Dog in Spanish
I have to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for cute little pups.
I've mentioned before that Lauren and I have one of our own: an adorable little Dachshund mix that we rescued. We named her Schatzi – a German nickname that means “little treasure” – but she’s a polyglot pup through and through!
I enjoy keeping up my language studies and talking about Schatzi or to her in other languages… including Spanish!
Are there benefits to talking to your dog in the Spanish language? Absolutely! The first obvious benefit is that you get more practice speaking Spanish. You’ll get a grasp on the imperative form, as well as basic commands. It can also help your dog to “tune in” better too, because your dog will learn that those Spanish words are for him. As opposed to English or other languages you may speak to others.
But first, let’s start off with the basics… How do you say dog in Spanish?
“Dog” in Spanish – Perro or Perra
If you’re going to talk to your pup in Spanish, you definitely need to know the word for dog in Spanish. That would be perro, with the Spanish rolled “r”.
What if you want to talk about your puppy in Spanish? That’s easy: puppy in Spanish is perrito, adding the cute ending of -ito which means “little” or “small”.
If you want to talk about your dog’s size, you can say “little dog” in Spanish which is perro pequeño or “big dog” in Spanish which is perro grande.
Now, those are the male forms of the words. If your dog is a girl, you can say perra or perrita for a puppy.
Dog Breeds in Spanish
What’s the Spanish word for dog breeds? To talk about the breed of your dog, you can say raza de perro (“dog breed”). Most popular dog breeds have the same name in Spanish as they do in English, so that makes it easy. A beagle is still a beagle, a boxer is a bóxer (but with an accent mark), a husky is a husky. And of course, chihuahua is chihuahua.
That said, there are a few dog breeds that are different in Spanish. Here are some notable ones:
- Great Danes – Gran Danés
- German Shepherd – Pastor Alemán
- Poodle – Caniche
- Spanish Greyhound – Galgo
- Bloodhound – Sabueso
- Mutt – Chucho
- Purebred – Pedigrí
Dog Commands in Spanish
Teaching your dog commands in Spanish can be a rewarding way to practise your Spanish. And you’ll have a lot of fun showing off your Spanish speaking dog!
There are plenty of helpful words and phrases you can learn to teach Spanish commands to your perrito. Here are some of the most common ones:
“Good Dog” and “Bad Dog” in Spanish
When you’re training your dog, you’ll need a phrase to reward him with positive praise and affection. So when he’s done well, you can say Buen perro (“Good dog”). Or, you can tell him ¡Muy bien! for “Very good!”
But if he’s not listening or has done something wrong, you may need to use a phrase to let him know. In that case, say Perro malo (“Bad dog”) or just malo (“bad”).
“Yes” and “No” in Spanish
As with anything, you need to know your basic “yes” and “no”. And they’re very simple to remember! “Yes” is Sí. “No” is even easier: it’s No. These are easy to start practising commands with, and you can use them to reinforce what you’re saying.
If you want to say a little more, you can say No, no hagas eso, which means “No, don’t do that.” Make sure to be crisp and clear with your “no” – which is natural in Spanish anyway – to get your dog’s attention.
“Sit” and “Stay” in Spanish
The two golden commands that every dog should learn are “sit” and “stay”.
These two commands are the basics for teaching obedience and the starting point for other tricks, so it’s good to start here with Spanish dog commands. For “sit”, you use the imperative form siéntate. And for “stay”, you can use quieto. It translates to “quiet” or “calm” but it’s used as “stay” in Spanish.
“Roll Over” and “Lie Down” in Spanish
If you’re ready to teach your dog a few tricks, then you’d move on to “lie down” and “roll over”. Échate is the Spanish word for “lie down.” Its root form, echar, has many meanings: put, toss, throw, drop, lay. As such, you may hear echar used with the imperative meaning of “Put it down”. So as not to confuse your dog, use échate for “lie down”. When you want your dog to put something down, there’s another command, which I’ll cover in a moment.
To ask your dog to roll over, use the command dese la vuelta.
“Take It” and “Drop It” in Spanish
If you’re playing with your dog, these are useful phrases to learn. You can tell your dog to “take it” by saying tómalo. You can use this in a phrase such as Toma el palo (“Take the stick”).
If you’re playing with a ball, you’ll need to tell your dog to drop it so you can throw it again. In that case, say suelta. If you’re combining it with the noun of what you want your dog to drop, add “lo” or “la”, like Suelta la bola (“Drop the ball”).
“Fetch” and “Give” in Spanish
All dogs love to fetch! If you’re throwing the bola or palo from the last example, then you can command your dog to fetch with ¡Trae! This comes from the verb traer, “to bring”.
Once he brings it back, you can use suelta to ask your dog to “drop it”, or say dáme for “give it to me”.
“Wait” and “Heel” in Spanish
After you’ve taught your dog to sit and stay, it’s time to teach patience. You might tell your dog to quieto, and he will stay for a moment, but then gets up again. If you want your dog to wait longer, the command in Spanish is espera – “wait”.
The command “heel” keeps your dog by your side. If you’re walking with him, he may try to rush forward. “Heel” tells him to stop and walk with you. In Spanish, say talón.
“Go Lie Down” in Spanish
If your dog is right under your feet (for example while cooking hot food in the kitchen) then you need to teach him a command to move away and lie down. In Spanish you can tell him, Anda, échate en tu cama (“Go, lie down on your bed”).
Before you can do this, you’ll have to teach your dog that its bed is called cama first, and have mastered the échate command.
“Come” and “Here” in Spanish
Keep these phrases close in mind when taking your dog for a walk. In Spanish-speaking countries, leashes are less common and dogs roam around. So you’ll need to remember how to call your dog back!
The irregular verb, venir, turns into ven when used as a command to say “come”. You could also say ¡Ven a mi!, “Come to me!”
For “here” say aquí. This is useful when telling your dog which direction to go, like “this way”, or to tell him to come to you or bring something to you.
“Stop” and “Quiet” in Spanish
You can use these commands to tell your dog not to do something. To teach him “stop” in Spanish, say detente. You might say, ¡Detente! No, no ladres. (“Stop! No, don’t bark.”)
Another useful phrase to quiet your dog is silencio for “quiet”. You may know that one already if you’re a fan of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. They take the Spanish word Silencio as the magic word for their silencing charm. Works like magic for pups too!
Your dog may get into things that they shouldn’t from time to time. Besides dentente, you can say things like No comas (“Don’t eat that”), or sale as “go on” or “shoo”. If your dog has jumped up on someone, you can command them to “get down” with bájate.
“Give Me Your Paw” in Spanish
A cute little trick to teach your dog is to “shake” or “give me your paw.” You can say dame tu pata as a command to give his paw to you.
Another trick is to teach your dog to bark on command. Some people call this “speak” or “say hello”. So you could use ladrá for “speak” or “bark”, and di hola for “say hello”.
“Let’s Go” in Spanish
You’ve probably heard this common Spanish phrase plenty of times before. ¡Vamos! means “Let’s go!” and you can use it to command your dog to get moving.
You may also want to tell him to go somewhere specific, like outside to do his business. In that situation, use salir afuera for “go outside”.
“Drink” and “Eat” in Spanish
The last Spanish dog commands I’ll share with you are “drink” and “eat”. To tell your dog he needs to drink up, say Bebe tu agua. And for food, use Come tu comida.
While most dogs will quickly scoff up their food, you may need to tell your dog this as a “release” command if you told him he had to quieto y espera.
Dog Treats in Spanish
To say “dog treat” in Spanish, you would use galletas para perros for “dog biscuits”. But you can also call them premio (“prize”) or recompensa (“reward”) to your little pup.
Galletas actually means “cookies” though, and often dog treats are thought of as “dog cookies”. Like in English when you might talk to your dog in a “baby voice”, it’s common to add a cutesy touch when rewarding your dog in Spanish, too. So you could say ¿Quién es un buen chico? Aquí hay una galletita! (“Who’s a good boy? Here’s a little cookie!”) Adding -ito or -ita ending to words makes them “little” and cute.
How are Dogs Viewed in Spanish Speaking Cultures?
For the most part, in Spanish speaking countries dogs viewed and treated as they are in the US. With younger generations, and especially in metropolitan areas, dogs are a part of the family. They’re loved, pampered, and dressed up in cute outfits.
But, there are a few differences. Having pets spayed or neutered isn’t as common as in the US, so there are lots of dogs. It’s much more common to see dogs roaming the streets. In some areas, animal rights aren’t seen as such a big issue, and in the rural areas dogs are often seen as working dogs – hunting or guarding – rather than as pets.
That said, as the world becomes more connected, the movement towards animal rights and treating animals as part of a family has grown in Spanish speaking countries. In many city areas, you wouldn’t notice a difference to how dogs are treated compared to the US. There are even religious holidays around pets, where families bring their pets to church for blessings!